Secret Service Deleted Jan. 6 Text Messages After Oversight Officials Requested Them

The Secret Service erased text messages from January 5 and January 6, 2021, according to a letter given to the January 6 committee and reviewed by The Intercept. The letter was originally sent by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General to the House and Senate homeland security committees. Though the Secret Service maintains that the text messages were lost as a result of a “device-replacement program,” the letter says the erasure took place shortly after oversight officials requested the agency’s electronic communications.

The Secret Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Secret Service has emerged as a key player in the explosive congressional hearings on former President Donald Trump’s role in the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an attempt to prevent the 2020 election results from being certified. That day, then-Vice President Mike Pence was at the Capitol to certify the results. When rioters entered the building, the Secret Service tried to whisk Pence away from the scene.

“I’m not getting in the car,” Pence reportedly told the Secret Service detail on January 6. “If I get in that vehicle, you guys are taking off.” Had Pence entered the vice presidential limo, he would have been taken to a secure location where he would have been unable to certify the presidential election results, plunging the U.S. into uncharted waters.

“People need to understand that if Pence had listened to the Secret Service and fled the Capitol, this could have turned out a whole lot worse,” a congressional official not authorized to speak publicly told The Intercept. “It could’ve been a successful coup, not just an attempted one.”

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